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Health Benefits of Ancient Grains

Updated on November 7, 2014

Quinoa, Amaranth and Millet


Quinoa - said keenwa - is not a true grain, being related to the vegetable family that includes spinach. It is a tiny yellow grain which is often referred to as the gold of all grains. When compared to other grains, it has the highest protein content, more calcium than milk, is rich in iron, B vitamins, phosphorus, vitamin E, fibre and is gluten free. These many qualities make quinoa a powerful healing grain. It is generally strengthening for the whole body, creating strong, sinuous muscles so is ideal for people who want to look toned. It is also recommended for recently turned vegetarians who may crave nutrient concentrated foods.

Cooked quinoa is very versatile as it can be used in place of almost any other grain. It can be prepared as a cereal like rice or combined with other grains because of its strength.

Quinoa with Oats

1 cup of Quinoa, soaked 1 cup of rolled oats 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 3 cups of water 1/2 cup nuts of your choice.

Before soaking, rinse the quinoa several times to reduce the bitterness. Place all ingredients in a pot and cover. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit 5 minutes with closed lid. Serve with cooked fruit or soaked dried fruit.

Quinoa and Pinto Bean Casserole

1 cup quinoa, 1 tablespoon olive oil ,1 onion, chopped, 2 cups water, 2 stalks celery, 1 teaspoon basil, 1/4 cup white miso, 1/4 cup tahini, 1 cup pinto beans.

Wash the quinoa, drain through a sieve and place in a saucepan with water. Cover and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Place in a bowl. Heat oil in frying pan, sauté celery, onion and basil until almost tender. Add to quinoa along with the other ingredients. Mix well. Pack into a casserole dish. Bake for 34 - 40 minutes at 180C or 350 F. Serve with steamed vegetables or a stir fry.


A cousin of Quinoa, the small grain of amaranth also has a high nutritional value, with adequate amounts of protein, calcium, iron, phosphorus, essential fatty acids and fibre. This makes it especially helpful for people with higher needs, such as nursing or pregnant woman, infants, children or those who do heavy physical work. It has a strengthening toning action on the body especially the abdomen and is also gluten free.

Amaranth is unusually high in lysine, an amino acid that is low in wheat and in most other grains. A combination of amaranth and a low lysine grain then presents a very high amino acid/protein profile, even higher than in meat and other animal products.

Amaranth can be used in breads, cakes and grain dishes or in soups and stews where it acts as a thickening agent. It can also be popped like popcorn or toasted for a nutty flavour.

Amaranth Porridge

1 cup amaranth, 2 cups water, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 cup dried apricots and 1/4 cup dried dates(soaked overnight), 1/4 cup almonds.

Place amaranth, salt and water in a pot. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add dried fruit in the last 45 minutes. Place in serving bowl. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and serve with soy, rice or nut milk, stirring in rice maple syrup or honey.

Amaranth and Black Eyed Beans

2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 onion, slivered, 1 small zucchini, diced, 1/4 cup red diced red pepper, 1 cup cooked amaranth, 1 cup cooked black eyed beans, tamari or shoyu to taste.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic, onion. zucchini and red pepper one at a time and cook until they are sealed and soft. Mix cooked amaranth and black-eyed beans gently into the vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste with tamari or shoyu before serving. Serve hot.


Millet is a small, round, yellow coloured cereal grain that is high in protein and easy for the body to digest. It contains iron, B vitamins, silicon, essential fatty acids and is a body-balancing alkalizing grain for over acidic conditions such as osteoarthritis or gout. Because of its alkali-forming nature, millet is often cooked with little or no salt. Millet helps strengthen the kidneys and immune system and is also beneficial to the stomach and spleen-pancreas organs.

Millet Porridge

1/2 cup hulled millet, 1/2 cup raisins, 3 cups water OR 3 cups soy milk OR 3 cups apple juice, 1 pear finely sliced,pinch sea salt, 1 tsp brown rice malt, barley malt or honey(optional)

Place millet, raisins and seal salt in a pot. Add the water or milk and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes until cooked. Steam the pear and serve pear and soy, nut or seed milk on top.

Fried Millet Pumpkin Cakes

2 cups millet, 1/4 small pumpkin, 3 large tomatoes, 3 cloves garlic, 1 large onion, 2 tablespoons shoyu, 3 cups water.

Wash the millet well and place in a large pot with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil,reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes over a very low heat. Spread onto a greased tray and allow to cool and set. When cold, cut into squares and fry in a little oil until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately with salad and some form of protein.

I have included a porridge type recipe for each of these grains as this is an easy way to introduce these less common grains into your diet.


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    • tebo profile image

      tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks DDE. Glad you liked it. Thanks for reading my hub.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An interesting and informative hub.